Jaipur Lit-Fest Goes Ahead, Sidestepping Safety Concerns

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The five-day Jaipur lit fest will begin at the Diggy Palace on Friday.


Jaipur:  Despite security concerns, the Ninth Jaipur literature festival is all set to begin at Diggi Palace on Friday. A battery of big names is on its lists, including Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood and British comedian Stephen Fry, expected to draw at least 1.5 lakh people over the next five days.  

Given the high footfall and high profile of the programme, questions had been raised about safety measures at the lit fest venue. Though a petition was filed on the issue, the Rajasthan high court has not intervened. The court has given the government a week's time to respond.
 

The festival is being held at the Diggi Palace for the last eight years.

The administration has put in place elaborate security measures - including prominently marked exits and the presence of adequate security personnel.

"We have a completely evaluated disaster management plan, which has been formulated because everywhere we do a festival the world over," said festival director Sanjoy Roy.

Besides Margaret Atwood and Stephen Fry, the guest list includes Irish poet and activist Colm Toibin, author Alexander McCall Smith and even Karan Johar.

The debates to watch out for include the one on "Whether freedom of speech is absolute or unconditional" which will have Anupam Kher as one of the panelists. Shatrughan Sinha in conversation with Shashi Tharoor is also guaranteed to run to a full house.
 

Around 1.5 lakh people are expected to attend the festival this year.


But the point of these conversations, says festival director Namita Gokhale, is not to look at positions, but at the complexity of society and its voices. "I'm not going 'yeah' for the free speechers and 'boo' for the non-free speechers... it is just that there are nuances and the point of the lit fest is that they throw up interesting perspectives," she said.

The Jaipur literature festival has also become the most sought after venue for book launches - among them is "Walking Towards Ourselves", edited by Catrina Mitchell, in which Indian women tell their stories.


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